The Avenue of the Saints runs 550 miles from St. Paul, MN to St. Louis, MO. It's smooth sailing--until you get to Hannibal. That's when you run into a buzzsaw. And now the mess is going to get a whole lot messier for the summer driving season.

A $5.4 million road improvement project starts in just a few days and will last thru mid-October along this stretch of Highway 61. Locals like me know it as McMasters Avenue. It's famous miles around for snarling traffic.

Only in Hannibal do drivers have to deal with stop lights on that whole 550 mile length of the Avenue of the Saints. Not just one or two, but EIGHT stoplights. Several of them are monitored by red light cameras to catch rule breakers and add cash to the coffers of Hannibal government. My uncle is a truck driver and he says truckers around the country know this is a place they're prone to get ticketed.

If you live in Hannibal, there is no way to avoid McMasters Avenue. It's our main drag for shops, schools and food. More than 25,000 vehicles travel on it everyday. No doubt improvements are necessary with that volume of vehicles. What is truly needed is a bypass to direct traffic away from all those stoplights. A bypass is perpetually on the wish list but never on the actual to-do list for the Missouri Department of Transportation. There's just not enough money in the budget.

This spring and stretching into the fall, McMasters/Highway 61/Avenue of the Saints will still be open. You won't have to detour, but you will have to deal with lane closures and even more headaches than usual when you take this route. Thankfully, a good portion of the work will happen in the overnight hours. If you want details on the schedule, check it out HERE.